US limits exports to Chinese supercomputing entities

Blacklisted organization hosts world's fourth most powerful supercomputer

Chinese flag merged with a circuit board

The US government has added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to its Entity List, restricting US exports to them.

The institutions added to the list are Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou.

The exports come from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is part of the US Department of Commerce. The BIS stated they were involved with building supercomputers used by the Chinese military, which in some cases was using them for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

The Entity List (otherwise known as Supplement No. 4 to Part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations) contains a list of foreign individuals and organizations the US government has imposed export controls on. It adds entities to the list that it feels are working against US national security or foreign policy interests.

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons," said US Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo. "The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging U.S. technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts.”

Exascale supercomputers are instrumental in modeling complex physical interactions, including the heat drag across fast-traveling surfaces. The US also uses them to simulate nuclear detonations.

The US and China have repeatedly surpassed each other in creating the largest supercomputers. The most powerful operational computer most recently documented is Japanese and has over 7.6 million cores. The US occupies slots two and three, with a Chinese computer at Wuxi, which is now on the blacklist, coming fourth.

The US has blacklisted various technology companies under the Entity List, including Huawei, SMIC, and drone maker DJI.

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